India is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the media, according to a full-page advertisement in The Washington Post that was published this week during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US capital, despite being the greatest democracy in the world.
The National Press Club in Washington, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, International Press Institute (IPI), the International Women’s Media Foundation, James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, Reporters Committee, and WAN IFRA were among the organizations that jointly sponsored the advertisement, which draws attention to the difficulties that Indian journalists face.
It served as a reminder to both the Biden administration and the Indian guests that “press freedom is under increasing threat” in India, where “journalists are subject to physical violence, harassment, fictitious lawsuits, and hate campaigns on social media.”
The Post also ran a news item stating that Narendra Modi did something quite rare on Thursday at the White House (joint news conference), taking questions from journalists, proving that the pressure put on him by the media and rights advocacy groups had some effect.
The press conference was “less extensive than the kind US presidents typically hold with foreign leaders, but even that wasn’t easy to arrange with Modi,” according to the story. Only the day before the event, Indian government officials approved it.
The IPI, a global network of editors and media executives, said in a separate statement that “Biden must make tackling these issues at home and abroad a priority” due to the worrisome degradation of press freedom in India.
Biden was urged to take this opportunity to raise important issues regarding press freedom in India, including the plight of Kashmiri journalists and the increased use of ‘law fare’ to silence critical journalists, according to the advice given.
IPI also asked Biden to put pressure on Modi to take decisive action to enhance the country’s press freedom environment. The statement said, “Crackdowns on the media have increased in frequency over the past decade since Modi took office.”
In an open letter to Modi that was published last month, IPI pleaded with the Indian Prime Minister to take immediate and concrete action to protect freedom of expression and media freedom and to ensure that the Indian public can exercise their fundamental right to receive diverse, independent news and information.